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Helping hand from Martha - Editors assist BK students with magazine

For students at Dr. Susan S. McKinney Secondary School of the Arts, assistance from the editors of Martha Stewart Living in producing their own school magazine was definitely “a good thing.”

The school unveiled the resulting journal – the framed pages of which were prominently displayed on the walls of a transformed gym to oohs and ahs – during a party celebrating the collaboration, the participants and the organization that made it possible on a Friday evening just before school recessed for the summer.

Walking into the gym at the school, 101 Park Avenue, it was clear that the transformation which began with the magazine, McKinney Living, was being savored and reinterpreted throughout the school.

A glittering buffet enticed nibblers, as a jazz band played in one corner. In the other, a lighted recreation of the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan skyline provided additional atmosphere.

But, dominating everything was the lineup of pages – sassy and stylish – that reflected not only the school community but the commitment and determination of those who had put the magazine together.

The collaboration between the school and MSL unfolded over the course of months, as a true labor of love, with editors from the magazine spending hours at McKinney working with the students, and students from the school visiting MSL’s offices.

The project blossomed under the watchful eye of PENCIL, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to creating such partnerships between educational institutions and businesses. While PENCIL is best known for its Principal for a Day program, it also fosters sustained partnerships such as this one.

McKinney’s Principal, Paula Holmes, said she was “very, very proud” of the students for what they had achieved. The collaboration, she added, had, “Had legs in our building,” as other students with other interests refined their own efforts. “That level of partnership in today’s times is rare,” Holmes stressed.

Michael Boodro, the editor-in-chief of Martha Stewart Living, returned the compliment. He said that it was the MSL staffers who had really gained from the partnership. “We want to thank you,” he told the assembled crowd. “Working with you reminded us how much fun our jobs could be.”

The sense of joy was clearly shared. Nastasha Tazewell, a graduating senior who served as McKinney Living’s editor in chief, noted that her efforts on the magazine, “Made me more enthused about become a journalist. After this, I’ve decided this is what I want to do with my life.”

Tazewell had a few words of wisdom for the students who will be involved with the magazine next year. “Please have a lot of free time when working on this magazine,” she urged.

“None of us thought this was possible,” added teacher Joanne Marciano, who supervised the school’s editorial efforts. However, she noted, what had been proved was, “What you can accomplish when you come together.

“It really gets at what a partnership is supposed to be,” Marciano went on. “Next year, we are definitely going to work just as hard to produce just as fabulous a magazine.”

Partnerships such as had been forged between the school and the magazine, stressed Michael Haberman, PENCIL’s president, benefit all involved.

“PENCIL is about creating and supporting these relationships so the business and school communities work together not only to change the lives of the students but the lives of the business leaders as well,” he told the group.

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